Baker, James

Letter
Date:
October 4, 1943
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
Oct.4th, 1943

Dear Mom and Dad,

I haven't had a letter yet this week but am expecting one any day now, so I guess you could consider this an answer in advance.

Yesterday we had a terrific time. We have had several flips on which they changed the route but usually, they give us a few minutes notice so that we have time to get our maps straight before we go in for briefing. But yesterday they sprang a route change on us when we were in the briefing room, ready to go up. So of course, there was a terrific flap at the last moment trying to get all our maps and logs ready before we went up. We were supposed to be doing a 10,000 ft. exercise too and they changed it to 2000 feet because of cloud. So then we all had our flying suits on and nearly cooked, the temperature was about 50. We went out on the Bay of Chaleur and the Gaspe Peninsula where there are 1800 ft. mountains - as they call them here, so the second leg I did at about 50 to 100 feet above the ground. On top of this - the air was bumpy, it was like riding a bucking bronco. Nearly everyone of us was sick, including myself. I made a very bad blunder in Navigation too, which put me a long way out in my calculations. However, I found out when I got down to the ground again that I was practically the only one who made anything like an attempt to work, so I felt a lot better about it. One of the fellows was so sick he nearly died! It was a really horrible trip. Today I have a terrific cold which just caught up with me overnight, so I can't fly for 48 hours. They are very particular about that here and more especially about your ears, as they are by far the most vulnerable part of your body as far as flying is concerned. We are also going to have a physical endurance test shortly which I hear is some ‘pumpkins'. Some of the fellows who have had it didn't like it at all.

Well, I guess I'll have to start scouting around for Mary's Xmas present, though what I am going to get her I don't know. Have you any ideas? They are probably unobtainable in this neck of the woods anyway. We are probably miles away from civilization really, even though there is a town about 3 miles away. But it is entirely cut off from any cities, so I don't suppose there will be much in the way of presents to get. It is so hard to know what to get. I guess I'll just have to go and scout around. Make a general nuisance of myself to some poor clerk's dismay.

I had a letter from a friend of mine today that was quite a shock. I don't know if I have mentioned him in my letters before. I came over from England with him. He used to be a ‘London Bobby' and is a very nice fellow altogether. I got posted out of Moncton ahead of him and he arrived at Mountain View the week I left. In his letter he tells me he has had an accident, a Browning Gun blew back in his face - some brass chip got in his eye and he is afraid he is going to lose it. Isn't that horrible, especially when you think that he has been waiting 18 months for just this chance? He has a lovely wife and baby at home too. It seems that every pal I make something happens to him or me so that we are split up. I had a letter from another friend of mine who was in the same room with me at ITW. He has just graduated as a pilot from Uplands near Ottawa and expects to be going back Overseas any day now. Another one who transferred with me from the Pats is training in Calgary as a Pilot due to some mixup with his papers in Ottawa. He was classified as an Air Bomber but is now a Pilot - and what is more, he is training in his own hometown! Some fellows get all the luck. I wish I could have trained out west. I have had my fill of Eastern Canada. It is so bleak and dreary compared to BC.

We have started a new system of training now. We work all Saturday afternoon instead of having it off subject to flying. In compensation, we have weekends every three weeks instead of every four as heretofore. I know not whether I welcome the change.

I have found a fellow on the station that I used to go to school with - Harry Larondi, whose brother married Jessie Weston. He is graduating next week and very happy about the whole thing - can't say that I blame him. I will be very happy to graduate from here too - if I do, I will tell you.

I must thank you again for that lovely lighter and watch. It is keeping very good time, only gaining about 1 min. per day. I think once it has settled down it will be alright. Must close now.

Love to everyone as always,

Jim

PS. Received your letter enclosing cutting today...don't know any of the lads though.
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